Aging in place is the optimal choice for seniors who want the highest quality of life as they age. While health and physical ability are key factors for aging in place, the decision is also largely based on the livability of the home. In order to successfully age in place, the environment must promote safety, comfort and independence.
In most cases, the homes where you’ve raised your family, and even some newer homes, aren’t senior-friendly. But, the decision to remodel or relocate isn’t always feasible or desirable. So the greatest challenge of aging in place is oftentimes how to adapt the existing environment to better support the needs of aging bodies and minds.
Related: Aging in place technology
There are a number of recent trends to follow in adapting the home for successful aging in place. Achievable without remodeling or moving, these trends require a small investment and some professional help, but in the end, offer a safe and livable solution.
Top Home Design Trends
Level Entry – Easy access to the inside of a home is key. Whether it’s raining, icy or you simply have a handful of groceries, there must be a safe point of entry for the home. Modifications to the space between a garage and the home or for exterior doors leading inside are popular trends in home design for those aging in place. Depending on the slope, this may be as easy as installing a ramp.
Easy Reach Cabinets and Accessible Storage – High cabinets aren’t desirable because they require climbing, reaching and lifting. Installing shorter cabinets is great, but if new cabinets aren’t an option, there are other alternatives for fixing hard-to-reach cabinets. Simple drawer modifications or extensions can offer plentiful storage at waist level.
User-Friendly Appliances – Most ovens, dishwashers and refrigerators are designed with doors, but some newer models contain drawers. Drawer appliances are becoming popular with seniors because they are more comfortable in height, and eliminate the need to bend over. These types of appliances reduce back strain that develops from loading and unloading items.
No Threshold Bath and Shower Entry – Statistics show 80% of falls happen in the bathroom. Safe entry into the bath or shower is critical. Your bathroom doesn’t need to undergo a major renovation, rather a tub or shower conversion that provides safer entry. Installing grab bars are another way to reduce bathroom hazards.
Open Spaces – Achieving an open floor plan may sound like a big undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, opening up living spaces is attainable by knocking down a wall or two, but you don’t have to undergo demolition to create open rooms. Replace traditional doors with recessed or pocket doors, even try folding, accordion style doors. Not only does this widen space to get from one room to the next, but it eliminates the potential hazard caused by a propped open door. Don’t just focus on the door, but also check out the many user-friendly hardware options to compliment them.
As seniors strive to age in place, new trends are emerging to make the transition easier and safer. While some home modifications may require more money and the help of a professional contractor, there are government and nonprofit programs available to help seniors make the changes necessary to stay in their homes. For more information on trends in home design for seniors aging in place, contact AT Home Care today at (804) 359-3400.